Conservative Thinkers Try to Team Up With Tea Party Movement

An alliance too big to fail?

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Big news on the right today: A group of conservative leaders is signing a "statement of principle" that seeks to give some structure to the ideas they share with the Tea Party movement. According to Politico, "The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles," says the statement, which seeks to define those principles as "constitutional conservatism." 

The drafters include former Attorney General Ed Meese, Heritage Foundation head Ed Feulner, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, and David Keene, head of the American Conservative Union, which is also sponsoring this week's CPAC conference. (Notice who is not listed: Tom Tancredo, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, or Rush Limbaugh.) Which do you think most on the right would rather see for the Tea Party movement: Sarah Palin in a hotel ballroom struggling to recall big ideas, or a cross-section of conservative leaders putting down on paper an intellectual framework for moving forward?

The real goal, according to Politico again, is to unite economic, social and national security conservatives across the board: 

The document will be aimed explicitly, Meese said, at "reminding economic conservatives that morality is essential to limited government, social conservatives that unlimited government is a threat to moral self-government, and national security conservatives that energetic but responsible government is the key to America's safety and leadership in the world." 

Speaking of the Founders, over at, Historian Richard Samuelson has written a great recap of the progressive movement and its goal of moving society away from the Founders' idea of checks and balances. Like the Tories in the 1760s, liberals in the educated class today believe that they have a "right to rule" because of their enlightened mindset and their good intentions. It's that give-us-all-your-money-and-we-know-best-how-to-spend-it-for-you arrogance on the left that drives the Tea Party movement. As the Wall Street Journal's lead editorial points out today, President Obama has spent his entire life in the educated class on the political left, despite what he says about not being an ideologue. 

Americans made it clear in Massachusetts, Virginia, and New Jersey that his ideology is not something they can afford: "You can see this in bankrupt Greece, where government spends 52% of GDP; or in California and New York, where the government-employee unions have pushed tax rates to punishing levels and the states still can't pay their bills. Americans can see that this is where Mr. Obama's agenda is also taking Washington, and this is why they are rejecting it," says the Journal. 

What the Tea Partiers and conservatives saw a long time ago is what more and more Americans are starting to realize now: that the liberals can't have it both ways. They can't call for healthcare reform that "saves money" and costs trillions at the same time; they can't say the answer to overspending and too much debt is more spending and more debt; and they can't expect voters already fed up with a big nanny state to trust them and surrender even more money and power to the federal government. They certainly shouldn't be surprised when pep rallies for the stimulus plan don't go over well. 

That's why this statement of principle today is a great thing. You might even say it's an idea Too Big to Fail.